Arizona is highly talented. The Wildcats also are widely inconsistent and don't play that well on the road where they have failed to cover 10 of the past 14 times.
California is a bad road team, but 10-3 at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears have covered five in a row at home and own Pac-12 home victories against Washington, Stanford and Oregon State.
Point guard Paris Austin has stepped up his play recently for the Bears, who also have been clamping down defensively holding their last six foes to an average of 62.5 points a game.
The Wildcats are coming off their worst shooting game of the season, a 65-52 home loss to UCLA this past Saturday. Cal's slow play can frustrate the Wildcats.
Thursday Free Play
Wichita State minus 3 at Central Florida
Sometimes it takes a come-to-Jesus moment for a good college basketball team to get turned around. I see that happening with Wichita State here at Central Florida.
The Shockers are 17-6. But they have lost three straight with the last defeat being their worst in 17 years, a 76-43 road loss to 20th-ranked Houston this past Sunday. Shockers coach Gregg Marshall and his team had an emotional meeting the day after that loss. Marshall ripped into his team for their lack of energy, hustle and determination. It's not a leap of faith to believe the Shockers will come out fired-up and emotional for this game. They are 12-4-1 ATS the past 17 times on the road when meeting a foe with a winning home mark.
Wichita State's first two defeats in its three-game losing streak came when Tulsa hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and Cincinnati won on a game-winning 3-point play with three seconds remaining.
Central Florida comes into this matchup completely unlike Wichita State being fat and happy having won two in a row. The Knights edged East Carolina, 68-64, as 3 1/2-point road favorites and defeated Tulsa, 83-75, as 2 1/2-point home favorites. Central Florida had failed to cover in its previous five home contests before that game. The Knights made a combined 22 of 44 shots from beyond the arc in those victories. Central Florida is far from a 50 percent shooting team from 3-point range ranking 265th in 3-point shooting accuracy at 31.9 percent.
The Shockers should play with a lot of confidence against Central Florida having gone 4-0 against the Knights since entering the American Athletic Conference. This includes an 87-79 home win against the Knights on Jan. 25. The Knights were 11 1/2-point favorites in that game. Now look at the number. Note, too, that Wichita State shot just 69 percent from the foul line in that game while Central Florida made 23 of 26 free throws for 88 percent. The Knights are a below average free throw shooting team, averaging 69.4 percent.